Ohio Gov. John Kasich's campaign was set to release a new web video Friday mocking Jeb Bush's record as governor of Florida, part of an intensifying battle between the two GOP presidential contenders.
"Jeb Bush couldn't fix Florida, so he dropped higher costs on everyone," says a female narrator in the animated spot, first obtained by The Washington Post. The video charges that Bush raised fees on doctors' visits for poor children, increased college tuition and even raised the cost of owning a pet snake.
"If this is the best Jeb could do when times were good, how can we ever trust him to get America back on track?" the ad concludes as Bush is depicted shrugging. "The truth is, Jeb Bush isn't strong enough to lead."
Bush campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell fired back, saying, "Given John Kasich’s support for higher taxes, record of increasing Ohio’s state spending by 40 percent and his enthusiastic expansion of Medicaid, it is candidly pretty surprising he would want to compare records with Jeb Bush, but we welcome that comparison.
"Jeb’s proven conservative record is unmatched in the entire presidential field," she added in a statement. "Under Jeb’s leadership, Florida led the nation in job creation, cut taxes by $19 billion and increased reserves to $9 billion dollars. John Kasich is a career politician that would bring more of the same to Washington. Jeb Bush is the proven leader that can take his undisputed record of accomplishment to reform Washington. "
The swipe by Kasich's campaign marks a new tone for the Ohio governor, who has largely limited his attacks to hitting front-runner Donald Trump. During an interview with Fox Business Friday, Kasich maintained that he is running a positive campaign.
"I'm not against anybody, I don't want anybody to go down or be hurt," he said. "That's not where I am. I think that's part of the problem -- it's not a zero-sum game, like I gotta take somebody down to go up. The reason I've been rising is because I have been talking about me. I'm not talking about anybody else."
The back-and-forth between Kasich and Bush comes as their allied super PACs began lobbing hard-hitting ads on the airwaves in New Hampshire this week.
A new spot from the Bush-allied Right to Rise that began airing Thursday hits Kasich for supporting the expansion of Obamacare in Ohio, accuses him of voting for "massive" defense cuts while in Congress and charges that he had a bad spending record as governor.
"John Kasich: Wrong on New Hampshire issues," the ad concludes.
In response, the pro-Kasich New Day for America fired back with a commercial depicting a stooped man covered in mud wearing a "Jeb!" button. "Jeb Bush once stood tall, before his campaign sank like a rock and he started slinging mud at fellow Republicans," a male narrator intones.